The blue tarpaulin sheet suddenly gives way and my feet impulsively tries to gain hold on the rocks. I lose grip and one of my slippers hits the rocks about hundred and fifty feet below. Even before I have time to think on what’s apparently gone wrong I foolishly tag the rope in my left hand instead of the right. And just one thought zips in my mind.. Damn! I shouldn’t have volunteered to be the first one to rappel down!
I pick the 4:00pm service back to Aundh and reach home at about 4:45pm only to learn that I didn’t have the room keys with me. A brief sprint towards Breman Circle and I manage to hitch a ride to Pune station. As Bhavana and Nikunj make their way from Kothrud , I purchase onward tickets to Karjat for the 6:30pm Indrayini express. At about 8:15pm the train hoots into Karjat. Amps travelling from Mumbai was to be at Karjat at around the same time. In about ten minutes she joins us. The plan was to camp at Kondu’s place at Kondividi that night. Folks from the Dhumketu trekkers group were to reach Kondividi early the next morning.
At about 09:00pm we get some light dinner packed for the night. Means of commutation to the Kondividi village is pretty scarce. Thankfully, for 250 bucks a rick. driver agrees to take us there. The 20kms of travel on the kutcha road devoid of any lighting with rain pouring all way through made for an indeed interesting start! To add thrill to the already distraughted travel , the rick’s headlight kept blowing off every time the rick bumped on the pothole ridden road. At about 09:40pm we reach Kondu’s place. As I learn later, Kondu’s place has been a vital pit stop for Dhumketu trekkers for quite some time now. We’re provided a warm welcome and a lady sets up the courtyard of their house for us to sleep. After a quick dinner we hit the floor. Sleeping in an open courtyard of an old village house with rain splashing on the extended roof of the house is not something that you get to experience nowadays! Besides company of a smelling dog all night long is also something that you never get to experience 😉 .
At about 02:30 am the Dhumketu trekkers core team arrives from Mumbai. The dog’s given me company long enough to keep my nose and eyes shut. At about 06:30 am we’re woken up from our slumber by Sanjay. In five minutes we’re up and start walking towards the Kondividi caves. The hike up till there reminds me of the Rajmachi trek. Kondividi caves is at the base point of the Rajmachi trek at the Karjat side.
By the time we reach the caves, the DT team had almost completed setting up the ropes for the rappelling. A blue tarpaulin sheet was being setup from the 150 odd feet rock to avoid bruises while rappelling down. A quick cleaning up of the caves and we’re set to have a great time. The Pune team was yet to reach so Nikunj and I hit to the waterfalls, while Bhavna and Amps pick a conversation with Sanjay and team. At about 10:30 am we decide to start rappelling. A quick climb up the hillock through the left side and we reach the top. Just another small yet powerful waterfall grabs our attention. A few minutes under the frothing waters and we’re asked to get back and adorn the rappelling gear.
Bhavna and I volunteer to be the scapegoats. This was my second attempt on Rappelling. The first was during the Skandagiri trek at Bangalore almost a year back. As I straddle the rope against my body, position my feet and let my body loose giving full control to the rope and the descender; a chill passes down my spine for no apparent reason. I get the go command and slowly start descending the cliff. The first few steps backwards and I already start faltering shamelessly by bending my knees and not giving appropriate distance to the feet. A stern look from the person above gets me back to my senses and I slowly gain control.
Rappelling at Kolar caves was on a low height, dry and flat surface all the way to the bottom. There you could get support from the vertical side too. But here after a few feet from the top, the cliff caves in and you have nothing to get grip on. The blue tarpaulin sheet in a way was misguiding and even before i knew the cliff was caving in, my left foot prods through the tarpaulin, trying in vain to get hold of something. One look down and I see one of my slippers hitting the rocks below. The rope suddenly swivels and I literally hang in thin air almost 100 ft above the ground – all at the mercy of the person controlling my speed of descent. In anxiety I let loose more rope from my left hand instead of holding it close to my body . Down I go faster than gauged. Fortunately, I soon gain control and stabilize myself. From then on the descent down goes pretty subtly and in about thirty seconds I touch ground! Bhavna follows suit in a few minutes. And it’s all done!
Nikunj and Amps warn me twice before I rappell down to click shots of them rappelling once I reach the base. I pick the cam from the bag and move over to a suitable place to get the snaps. In about another ten minutes they’re done with the rappelling too. It’s close to 11:00am and the team from Pune hasn’t yet turned up. Nikunj , Amps and I get back to the falls and spend almost an hour or so in the freezing waters. The pressure in the falls has tremendously increased. I finally manage to find my lost slipper amidst the rocks . At about 11:30am the Pune team finally arrives. DT folks give them a general precautionary briefing and starts the rappelling activity for them pretty soon. As we get out of the falls Bhavna asks Nikunj for a pic. This is when we realise someone’s stolen the cam from the bag. All cellphones, wallets and cards seem to be intact.There seems to be no leads as to when and how someone could have flicked it off!
Finally we decide to leave Kondivide by around 2:15pm. Amps was to get back to Mumbai and Bhavna had booked return tickets for three of us by the Deccan Express at 6:00pm from Karjat. So we had to rush! Bhavna’s throat gives in for no reason and she barely manages to speak a few syllables. We’re literally left penniless and hunger seems to be growing by the minute. Finally, At about 08:00pm we reach Pune station.
On another dimention, the Bombayz had already reached my home at Aundh. Nikunj drops me at my place at about 09:00pm. Pranesh and Tiwari join us for a sumptuous dinner at Rasoi Ghar and we head back home at about 10:30pm. As just another exciting day comes to an end, and as I hit the bed, I set the alarm to 04:45 am. The Raireshwar trek was planned for Sunday 😉 .